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Dairy UK: No health risks from cloned milk

02 August 2010

Dairy UK, which represents the interests of dairy farmers, producer co-operatives, manufacturers of dairy products, and processors and distributors of liquid milk, has joined the heated debate over the milk cloning controversy

"This is the first instance where there has been any suggestion of milk associated with cloned animals being used in production and we are liaising closely with the Food Standards Agency," Dairy UK says in reaction to the news that an anonymous British dairy farmer admitted using milk from a cow bred from a clone as part of his daily production. According to Food Standards Agency (FSA) regulations, foodstuffs produced from cloned animals must get approval before being sold.

"Milk and meat from the offspring of clones does not present any food safety risk. Research by both US and EU scientists has concluded that there is no difference between meat and milk from the offspring of cloned animals and products from conventionally bred animals.

"The Food Standards Agency’s view is milk from the offspring of cloned animals is a novel food, and requires to be approved under the EU Novel Foods Regulation. No applications in respect of this have been made. However The European Commission is undertaking a review of this area and will be calling member states to a meeting later this year to clarify the situation.

"The UK dairy industry is wholly committed to abiding by the current regulations."

The FSA now says it will be investigating the claims, saying it had not made authorisation of so-called novel foods produced by cloned animals. 

European law dictates foodstuffs - including milk - produced from clones must pass a safety evaluation and get approval before they are marketed.

So why is the milk from cloned animals so controversial? Animal welfare appears to be the foremost concern. The RSPCA, for instance, opposes cloning for food production on animal welfare and ethical grounds.

A spokesman was quoted as saying: "Cloning has huge potential to cause unnecessary pain, suffering and distress which cannot be justified by purely commercial benefits. He added cloning was "inefficient" and - if it became routine - could "greatly reduce genetic diversity within livestock populations, increasing the chances of whole herds being wiped out by disease".

Meanwhile, Dr Brendan Curran, a geneticist at Queen Mary University of London, has also been quoted, insisting the offspring of a cloned animal would "do everything normally".

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